D&D 5th Edition When to run from a 5e lich
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  1. #1

    When to run from a 5e lich

    In thinking about monster design across the editions I started wondering the following.... At what level should a balanced party of heroes go running home to mamma when they encounter an 18 th level lich...

    My early experience (1e) was about 15 th ... In recent editions this feels more like 11 th....

    I'd like 5th to be back at the 15th level feel

  2. #2
    All levels. A lich should never be a level-appropriate challenge.

    I want scary undead to be as scary as possible.

  3. #3
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

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    Depends on the level range. In a 1-20 game I think 12+ is a good range to face a lich.
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    Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)

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    Depends on the Lich, but I like them to be at least 18th level Solos, with nasty tricks (like undead dragons, traps, and other ways to play off their incredible age and experience).

    A lich should scare anyone below level 21. And depending on the lich, possibly past that point.

  5. #5
    A lich is just a wizard without the extraneous meaty parts. As such, it can range in level from scary (12?) to terrifying (16?) to about-to-become-a-new-dark-god (20+).

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    The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)

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    When your DM starts making Xykon jokes? Anyone would run from those awful puns.

    Or....what @ZombieRoboNinja said.

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    Grandmaster of Flowers (Lvl 18)

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    Quote Originally Posted by GX.Sigma View Post
    All levels. A lich should never be a level-appropriate challenge.

    I want scary undead to be as scary as possible.
    I think this is a very good point to think about.

    I don't mean I necessarily agree on a Lich specifically (but I do agree), but I mean that we should keep in mind that some monsters may deserve to be considered "inappropriate" in one of the two following possible senses:

    a- unbeatable, at least without some external help

    b- very tough i.e. with a good chance of failure

    For my personal tastes, a deity is always unbeatable, and a lich should always be very tough but not generally unbeatable.

    But we have to keep in mind that each of us would put different monsters in the a-league or the b-league above.

    Which is why it's not always easy for the designers to choose a monster's CR, and IMHO they made an excellent choice in 3ed when they made vampires, lycanthropes and liches into templates (although the original reason for doing so was definitely so that they can be applied to any base creature), because these are iconic monsters that gamers have wildly different opinions on how strong they should be! In someone's games vampires should be at the pinnacle of the monsters hierarchy while in someone else's games maybe vampirism is a common as flu and being a vampire just makes you only somewhat more dangerous than before.

    Of course this could theoretically be said about any monsters, but some are subject to this much more than others because they have many different incarnations in literature. As far as I know there isn't any literature where kobolds are uber or where beholders are wimps, for instance.

    Therefore I can easily say that a Lich should be powerful and scary, but how much... I don't know. Because 10th level may be good for me, since I usually have troubles DMing at very high levels and I still want Liches to be beatable, but 20th may not be enough for GX.Sigma. I sincerely hope that a variable level is supported as easily as it was in 3ed for these types of monsters...


    BTW this doesn't actually answer @Warbringer question He specifically assumes an 18th-level Lich and is essentially asking at what minimum level the PC party should be capable of handling such encounter. This question actually has got nothing to do with the fact that the encounter is a Lich rather than something else

    I don't have an answer for this. I'm used to 4 being a reasonable max difference between PC party level and encounter CR, but for a more "run!" outcome I think at least 6 is needed. But with 5e bounded accuracy, the number might actually be more.

  8. #8
    Spellbinder (Lvl 16)

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    I second the idea of templates being the best.

    I want my all but a god of war. Xykon like death throwing liches, but I also want the less powerful not solo threat immortal undead spellcaster

  9. #9
    I don't know, I think all we need is a mechanism to change monster levels, as well as some variant mechanics for stuff like energy drain.

  10. #10
    If a simple enough mechanic could be devised that allowed you to add, for example, a Lich template to a base creature, and then scale that template to your needs.

    For instance, Liches are normally high level spell casters. So, if 12th level is high in your game, the base Lich would grant base abilities - but, things like their elemental resistance and spell casting should be scalable so that the template fits your idea of high level (be it 18th or 12th).

    I don't want to see there being 3 different Lich templates, just because one is a higher level caster than another.

    Dang... I know what I want to say, but not how to write it. So I hope that made some kind of sense.

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